Thursday, December 31, 2009

Favorite Movie Pick of 2009

Being an avid movie fan, I attended more films than my usual in 2009. My choice, my personal movie of the year for 2009 can be none other than, "An Education."


Sometimes the most relevant education comes more from our experience rather than from our books.

A cautionary tale, "An Education," should be required viewing (annually) for junior high/senior high school girls (and their parents). Many favorable futures have been compromised, short-circuited by the illusion of love and security [often offered but not delivered].

 It is irresponsible (and foolish) to rely on another when we are fully capable of self-reliance. Our only true security lies within each of us.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Hit a Home Run With the Roku Digital Video Player and Netflix

Having a somewhat warped sense of humor, my favorite Christmas movie is "Mixed Nuts" (see Trailer). I have "Mixed Nuts" on VHS and DVD but was disappointed to find I had misplaced both..

What to do? What to do?

Straight to Netflix and, sure enough, there it was "Mixed Nuts" ready to be viewed instantly on my computer or instantly on my television using my Roku Digital Video Player.

Every year I worry whether the Christmas gifts I give will actually be something the recipients will be happy to receive.

This year I hit a home run. I gave fewer individual gifts and instead gave each family on my list a gift that can be shared.

What did I give?

From the Netflix website, I purchased a Roku Digital Video Player for myself (a second player) and players for my loved ones living elsewhere.

See User Reviews Here.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Flexibility, Key to Mobile Broadband Happiness

For travel purposes, I use a mobile broadband device from Verizon Wireless. My choice over the last year has been the USB760 Modem. It was necessary to use this broadband device exclusively for an extended period of time due to circumstances beyond my control. The USB760 Modem performed well.

Now I'd like more flexibility. A call to Judy at  Verizon Wireless Communications (1.800.222.8588) provided an upgrade to a MiFi 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot.

Cost for the MiFi 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot today $99.99 (before the application of a $50 mail-in rebate) and a $20 upgrade fee. Monthly cost remains the same.

The USB760 Modem will continue to work until activation of my new MiFi 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot. FedEx will be bringing it to my door Thursday.

It's easier and faster to check all 10+ email boxes using an iPod touch instead of logging in and out of each on the laptop. The MiFi 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot will allow me to use my iPod touch anywhere and at any time, great to have access to all my iPod touch applications while stuck in some out of the way place.

The MiFi 2200 will give me the flexibility to use my laptop and/or any of my other wi-fi enabled devices almost anywhere. Flexibility, the key to mobile broadband happiness.

One big drawback, five devices (the maximum allowed) using the MiFi 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot at the same time will use up the 5 GB allowance five times as fast. So it's best to check usage often.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Credit Card Scams Are Rampant - Watch Out!!

Today I received a text message that read, "onlinebanking@alert.bankof / Sorry--we've temporarily blocked your card for security purposes. Contact us at 1.877.865.2709. Thank You. /"

DO NOT respond if you should receive a similar message.

I called the number out of curiousity. A machine answered and asked for my credit card number.


And called Bank of America customer service @ 1-800-732-9194 and was transferred to their fraud department.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Treats from Pink Martini

First some fun -

Check out this on the Pink Martini website. Run your cursor over the bookcase to chase the birds from the tree, animate the beaver, play the drums, ring the classic phone, and then pick up the latest album lying on the floor.

And now on to the sublime -

On You Tube - La Soledad

On Pink Martini website - Audio 

On Pink Martini website - Shows and Tickets 
(A Wonderful Made-In-America Gift for Someone Special)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

2009 Favorite Holiday Apps for iPhone/iPod Touch

Christmas season is officially on. Shoppers are out shopping.Carolers are carolling. And bell ringers are ringing their bells. At least I hope so. I haven't ventured out to see for myself this season.

The Salvation Army Red Kettle Christmas Drive has been a fixture of my holidays for as long as I can remember. This year there is another way to throw a few coins into the kettle.

Go to the iTunes App Store, search for Salvation Army Christmas Music.

No time or money to send out Christmas cards this year. From the iTunes App Store, search for the FREE app, American Greetings.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Today is Robert Kennedy's Birthday

"Each time a person stands up for an ideal,
or acts to improve the lot of others...
he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope,
and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring,
those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."

Robert F. Kennedy (1925 - 1968)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

You Tube Video Copyright Controversy

Three University of Oregon journalism students put together a video. University officials are less than thrilled because the schools mascot was featured in the video. Disney owns the copyright on the mascot ... on the duck.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

H1N1 (Swine Flu) Preparedness

C-Span is the source of raw news I go to on a daily basis. Today I watched testimony about H1N1 preparedness (or the lack thereof) and how it can be improved upon in the future.

From C-Span today 

Traditional methods for producing the H1N1 vaccine, based on growing influenza cultures in eggs, have led to supply shortages, manufacturers claim. Representatives from Sanofi Pasteur, Novartis Vaccines USA and other vaccine makers joined public health officials in a House Energy & Commerce Cmte. hearing on delays in the production and delivery of the H1N1 vaccine. Washington, DC

House Committee Energy & Commerce | Oversight and Investigations House Committee Energy & Commerce | Health
Two House Energy and Commerce Subcommittees held a joint hearing to examine the federal government’s preparedness and response to the H1N1 swine flu virus and to get an update from vaccine makers on its production and distribution. Panel one included government health officials, and panel two consisted of H1N1 vaccine makers and state health .. Read More

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Learn Spanish, Me?!?

Like many others, I sat through three years of Spanish language classes in junior high school. What did I learn?

I can say hello, how are you, and my name is .....

Then it didn't matter as I had no use for Spanish. I lived in an all white, English-speaking, small town in America. Times have changed. Now many places of employment require their employees, especially those in customer service, to be bi-lingual.

So back to school, at night, with other like-minded adults. My instructor, a native speaker, would like us to learn to speak correctly. So with that in mind, she sent us to YouTube. Our homework, to sing along with very specific videos.

Check back here. I will post links to some of those videos, along with the words so you can sing along, too.

Donde estas, donde estas, Yolanda
Where are you, where are you, Yolanda
Que paso, que paso, Yolanda
What happened, what happened, Yolanda
Te busque, te busque, Yolanda
I looked for you, I looked for you, Yolanda
Y no estas, y no estas, Yolanda
And you are not there, you are not there, Yolanda

Donde estas, donde estas, Yolanda
Que paso, que paso, Yolanda
Te busque, te busque, Yolanda
Y no estas, y no estas Yolanda.

Tus ojos me miraron
Your eyes looked at me
Tus labios me besaron
Your lips kissed me
Con ese fuego ardiente
With that flaming fire
Ardiente de mujer
Flame of a woman

La luz de tu mirada
The light of your eyes
El fuego de tus labios
The flame of your eyes
Flecharon a mi pecho y de ti me enamore
Targeted my chest and I fell in love with you

Donde estas, donde estas, Yolanda
Que paso, que paso, Yolanda
Te busque, te busque, Yolanda
Y no estas, y no estas Yolanda.

Donde estas, donde estas, Yolanda
Que paso, que paso, Yolanda
Te busque, te busque, Yolanda
Y no estas, y no estas Yolanda.

Donde estas, donde estas, Yolanda
Que paso, que paso, Yolanda
Te busque, te busque, Yolanda
Y no estas, y no estas Yolanda.

Donde estas, donde estas, Yolanda
Que paso, que paso, Yolanda
Te busque, te busque, Yolanda
Y no estas, y no estas Yolanda.

Me dicen que paseabas
They tell me you were taking a ride
En un carro Yolanda
In a car Yolanda
Muy guapo Y arrogante
Very good looking and arrogant
Y todos te silbaban
And everyone whistled at you.

Si un dia te encontrara
If someday I find you
No se que puedo hacer
I don't know what I can do
No se me vuelvo loco
I don't know, I get crazy
Si ya no te vuelvo a ver
If I don't see you any more

Donde estas, donde estas, Yolanda
Que paso, que paso, Yolanda
Te busque, te busque, Yolanda
Y no estas, y no estas Yolanda.

Donde estas, donde estas, Yolanda
Que paso, que paso, Yolanda
Te busque, te busque, Yolanda
Y no estas, y no estas Yolanda.

Roberto Carlos - Un Millon de Amigos 

Andrea Bocelli - Jurame

Mocedades - Eres tu

Mercedes Sosa - Gracias a la vida

Rafael - Yo Soy Aquel

Juanes - Sueno

Celia Cruz - La Vida Es Un Carnaval

While you're waiting for me to post the lyrics above check out the following:

Learning Spanish Love Songs .... Level Three ... with English Translation

Learning Spanish Love Songs - Level Two

Learning Spanish Mother Songs - Level One

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Public Health Strategy - H1N1 Immunization Clinics

Being a child of the 1950's and 1960's, I became accustomed to lining up once a year at school to receive a polio shot.

Polio immunization 1956 

Past seasonal flu seasons have hit older Americans the hardest with about 30,000 deaths annually. Pandemic flu epidemics seem to affect the young and healthy, too.

Swine flu (H1N1) 2009  seems to be more dangerous for those born after 1950; and especially so for those 6 months to 24 years of age.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

I can't help but wonder why the limited supplies of vaccine haven't been distributed, free of charge, to local school districts nation wide, as it seems likely that school children are bringing the flu home to their parents and siblings.

Contact your state or local public health officials for current information on H1N1 immunization opportunities.

Find your state public health contact information


H1N1 (Swine Flu)

H1N1 (Swine Flu) Widget. Flash Player 9 is required.H1N1 (Swine Flu) Widget. Flash Player 9 is required.


Saturday, November 7, 2009

America's Health Care Policy

Today the Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R.3962) is being debated on the House floor.

Skip the commentary, go directly to C-Span to witness this historic discourse.

H.R.3962 passed as amended, 220 to 215.
Now, on to the Senate.
I favor this bill because I have family members who are underinsured (with pre-existing conditions that prevent them from buying better policies).. My own insurance is adequate (at least, so far. I haven't had a serious illness).

Unemployment has exceeded 10% in America. Fewer and fewer America's are covered by an employer-paid health insurance policy. 

Insurance premiums have risen beyond the reach of many Americans.

My personal health insurance policy (paid totally by me) will increase by $98 on December 1, 2009. My total premium will be $574 with a $750 deductible and a 20% co-pay if/when the deductible has been met.. This does not include vision or dental (totally out of pocket expense for me). Because I am healthy, I rarely spend more than my $750 deductible in a year's time (mostly for wellness appointments such as an annual exam). So my cost (not including dental and vision).will be $7638 this year before I receive any benefit from my health insurance.

While I can afford this increase, the next increase in my health insurance premium may price it beyond my capacity to pay.  Then what?

Health care reform is especially important for women. This says it very well,

From YouTube, The White House, The First Lady on Health Insurance Reform and Older Women

From my point of view, a single payer system would be a better system for America. This bill is a step in the right direction. Insurance companies are not non-profit entities. In my opinion, insurance companies exist for their own benefit, not for our benefit.

From YouTube, RunAwayBox, Boyfriend With Health Benefits 

From YouTube, Paul Hipp, We're Number 37 

From YouTube, lessjobsmorewars, Billionaires for Wealthcare

From YouTube, Humanleague002, Billionaires for Wealthcare

Thursday, November 5, 2009

When It Works It's Wonderful (And Taken For Granted)

Halloween evening, I discovered that my land line had no dial tone. Because I was leaving town for a few days, I left it until my return.

Yesterday the phone repair was completed within an hour of my calling it in. During the time between Halloween and yesterday's repair, I relied on my cell alone.

Early this morning, around 3:00 am, my cell went nuts (waking me from a sound sleep) .... and all the messages sent to me earlier in the day suddenly appeared. There were texts and voice mails. I was half asleep so I'm not even sure that I didn't delete one of them before viewing and/or hearing it

I did wonder why I had not received any calls or texts yesterday.

Now I'm wondering if my trust in these very familiar tools is at all warranted.

One thing I know to do that I forget to do because I leave my cell on 24/7 .. I have been told that it is a good idea to turn my cell completely off at least once a day to reset or reboot.

I am pleased with the response from my phone company, Qwest. The repair was made in a timely manner without having to let anyone into the house. And the person I spoke with about the repair gave me tips to do a little trouble shooting on my own, first, if there is a next time.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


While experimenting with various "gadgets" easily available for addition to this blog, I made what I consider to be an interesting discovery.

I added two video bars along the side. I wanted the first to play only whatever has been posted on YouTube for the world renowned musical group, Pink Martini. So, during set up, I did not mark options that I did not want. However, it soon became very clear that YouTube read what I did (or didn't do) as "undefined". And so what showed up in the video bar was a sound described on YouTube by the person posting it as "undefined", a cacophonous, raucous sound that may be music to someone's ears but certainly not to mine.The album, "As I Lay Dying."

However, the lyrics are interesting:

what is this world, what is this we've created
in the burdens of this life I cannot rest
this world means nothing
everything we hold will pass away
with a void of completion comfort will ever fade
I long for this wind to cease
we once held undying devotion
now dead to our thoughts, undefined, like our love

Interesting aside, the ads that were here disappeared shortly thereafter.

Monday, November 2, 2009

We Seem To Have Skipped Over "That One" This Year

Halloween is past and now it's time to get ready for Thanksgiving, right? Not so fast!

Having two homes to decorate for the holidays this year, I ventured from place to place searching for Thanksgiving themed window clings only to be given the same message at every stop, "We seem to have skipped over that one this year."

"That one" being Thanksgiving." Full steam ahead, on to Christmas.

Friday, October 30, 2009

My Favorite iPhone/iPod Touch App for October

Never the first to try new technology, I usually wait for the bugs to be worked out and the price to come down.

Last spring I splurged and purchased my first iPod, not just an iPod but an iPod Touch with the most memory available to me on that particular day.

I love this particular bit of technology. There is a never ending variety of ways to make use of this marvelous pocket computer.

One of my now favorite applications (Apps) Hangman (the free version). Word settings include animals, cars, celebrities, sports, easy, standard, movies, ESL words, countries, Spanish, Halloween, Thanksgiving, elements, Christmas, astronomy, summer, and monsters. There is something for everyone.

With my settings on either SAT Words or Hard Words, I play away. More often than I ordinarily would care to admit, I find myself referring to another favorite app ...

My reading vocabulary has always been greater than my spoken vocabulary. pronounces words for me, greatly increasing my spoken vocabulary.

Some of the more interesting words I have learned or relearned recently follow below (check out if these words are unfamiliar to you):


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Recession Notes: 1958 vs 2009

Spring 1958 and my younger brother had the mumps. Our parents were concerned because mumps led to sterility in some cases. Their solution was to purchase our very first black and white television set. The idea was to keep my brother as still as possible with the hope that he would recover without complication.

Along with the westerns, Saturday cartoons, and game shows, I remember a public service announcement that I found to be particularly intriguing. The spot was an animated story about a hot dog stand. The message, as I remember it, suggested that negative gossip could have an adverse effect on business. I saw the hot dog stand grow smaller and smaller. This public service ad played over and over and over again.

Billboards along our highways have often been considered a blight, obstructing the view of our beautiful America. Over the past two years more and more billboards have stood begging for business, advertising only themselves. I will believe the economy is on the way to a solid recovery only when billboards in America are no longer so under utilized.

Update (11/7/2009) I couldn't help but laugh out loud when I read this post again. I laughed because of all the mini billboards that I have placed on this blog. Physical billboards have been around for a long time but, any more, advertisers reach us by internet (less and less by radio, televison, newspapers or billboards).